Nationwide, employers lose approximately $92 billion in productivity (CDC) and 81 million workdays (U.S. Surgeon General) annually due to employee tobacco use. While Ohio’s SmokeFree Workplace Act protects Ohio residents and workers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, it does not reduce the burden of employee tobacco use on Ohio employers.
Hamilton County Public Health can provide technical – and sometimes financial – assistance to help area businesses lower their health care costs and improve productivity and environmental quality by developing and implementing comprehensive worksite tobacco policies.
Comprehensive worksite tobacco policies restrict tobacco use on company property (not just indoors), provide assistance to tobacco users who are interested in quitting and improve the overall work environment, including: less tobacco use among employees, higher productivity, fewer sick days, a cleaner environment, positive company image, and decreased health care costs.
While Ohio’s SmokeFree Workplace Act protects Ohio residents and workers from the harmful effects of tobacco use, more must be done to reduce tobacco’s burden on employers and the health care system. Comprehensive worksite policies help smokers quit and employers save money.
A survey conducted by Hamilton County Public Health in 2005 among 300 suburban Hamilton County employers indicated that more than two-thirds of employers think it’s important to have higher insurance premiums for smokers. But, just 16 percent of employers said they had higher insurance premiums for tobacco users and only 2 percent placed hiring restrictions on tobacco users, despite an admitted loss in productivity due to smoking breaks.
Health District staff can provide technical assistance to businesses to develop and implement their worksite tobacco policy. Model policies include:
- promotion of the policy on the worksite, including promotional materials for buildings, grounds and vehicles
- staff training
- promotion of the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line or other smoking cessation programs
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy and other stop smoking medications
- educational resources
- policy compliance monitoring
Employers with questions about the program can send an e-mail or call (513) 946-7800.